Friday, November 6, 2009

Tuning Out Television

We are trying something new at our home….time without television. Instead of waiting until the “new year” to try, and fail, at yet another resolution, we decided to give it a go now. I feel that as parents, we sometimes use our television sets as babysitters. It occupies their time and keeps them out of our hair. Unfortunately, I believe we are creating unproductive and unimaginative children. When we were little, we had to go outside and play. It’s very rare that you see children outdoors playing. They are usually inside, parked in front of a TV playing a video game or watching yet another program that is not suited for them. Prime time TV schedules have plummeted, with those shows that are not rated for children being shown at a time when they are surely watching. We’ve had enough.

Instead of spending time “vegging” out in front of the TV, our children are spending time learning about something we feel is not taught in school….what it means to spend time with your family. Our decision, for now, is to participate in family reading time after dinner. We think books are an excellent way to stimulate a child’s mind. Children can create the scenes in their minds. They can visualize the characters in their own unique way, instead of assigning a Hollywood face to each one.  They are learning that the characters are not always “pretty”.

For November, we decided on the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel. It is an account of his time spent in a concentration camp in Auschwitz. It’s upsetting and deep, but our children need to know the truth about what happened and why….so that it never happens again. Next month might be family reading time or we may spend every evening working jigsaw puzzles. The important thing is that we are spending time together as a family, re-establishing relationships with one another and strengthening bonds that we hope will last for generations. Might I encourage you to do the same?

I'm just sayin',


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Are you a photographer or a photo taker?

“Anyone can take a photo but not everyone can be a photographer.” No, this is not my personal mantra, but it is a quote I’ve heard several times over the past few weeks. Specifically, two of my photography instructors have repeated it many times in class. Yes, I still take classes. It’s called CPE – Continuing Photography Education. In this digital age, most people don’t feel they need any particular photographic skill to shoot a GOOD photo. And they are right. While the combination of having a digital camera and (name your preferred photo enhancing software here) produces many good images, it takes a lot more knowledge to produce a GREAT image and be a photographer.

In our society, most people who own some form of a digital camera fancy themselves a “photographer” (especially if their digital camera costs more than their neighbor’s digital camera), which is quite different from “someone who likes to take photos”. My good friends Merriam and Webster define photographer as follows:

Photographer: one who practices photography; especially, one who makes a business of taking photographs.

Thus, leading to the definition of photography:

Photography: the art or process of producing images on a sensitive surface (as film or a CCD chip – they had to add this last part when digital cameras arrived on the scene).

Sadly, the true art of photography is dying. I recently wrote an artist statement for a series of images. I needed a “peer review” of the statement and chose someone in one of my classes. In said statement, I mentioned how awesome it was to watch an image appear in a tray of liquid…it was magical. She asked me to clarify this as she had no idea what I was talking about. I explained it was part of the manual darkroom process…watching the image “appear” on the fiber paper while sitting in a tray of developer. This process was totally foreign to her…she has never been in a darkroom. What a tragedy. The darkroom is a very magical place indeed… epicenter of photographic creativity.

If you consider yourself a photographer, as opposed to a photo taker, use the checklist below to ascertain which category you fall into:

What is the definition of aperture?
What is the f-stop scale?
What f-stop should be used on really sunny days?
How do aperture and shutter speed work together? How do they work independently?
What does ISO mean?
If the ISO of my camera is set at 100, what lighting is going to be best for these photos?
If the ISO of my camera is set at 800, what lighting is going to be best for these photos?
What is a grayscale?
What is the Divine Proportion?
What is the Golden Mean or Golden Ratio?
What is dodging and burning?
What is exposure?
How does the Fibonacci Number System relate to photography?
What is the Rule of Thirds and how does that apply to my photos?

Are these questions a hard-fast rule to determine what category you fall into? Definitely not. It’s just some information to gauge yourself to see where you are and where you might want to go. If you’ve never been in a darkroom…..find one…..go there. It definitely offers a more magical experience that anything you will see at Disneyworld….and it doesn’t cost as much! Photography, as opposed to taking photos, will take on a whole new life for you.

I'm just sayin',